American forces have begun to build a massive concrete wall that will partition Sadr City, the densely populated Shiite neighborhood in the Iraqi capital.
The construction […] began Tuesday night […] On Wednesday night, huge cranes slowly lifted heavy concrete blocks into place under a moonless sky. The barriers were implanted on Al Quds Street, a major thoroughfare that separates the Tharwa and Jamilla districts to the south from the heart of Sadr City to the north.
The avenue was quiet except for the whirring sound of the cranes and thud of the barriers as they touched the ground. Contractors operated the cranes, but American soldiers transported the barriers on trucks and directed their placement.
The team building the barrier was protected by M-1 tanks, Stryker vehicles [photo] and Apache attack helicopters. As the workers labored in silence, there was a burst of fire as an M-1 tank blasted its main gun at a small group of fighters to the west. An Apache helicopter fired a Hellfire missile at a militia team equipped with rocket-propelled grenades, again interrupting the night with a thunderous boom. A cloud of dark smoke was visible in the distance through the Stryker’s night-vision system. […]
With a sandstorm hampering reconnaissance drones and grounding helicopters, work on the barrier was suspended Thursday, but the military intends to resume work as the weather improves.
The swirling dust storm, which turned the sky into a gritty beige, proved to be a boon to the militias. Calculating that they would ground the Americans helicopters and interfere with the reconnaissance drones, militias assaulted the northernmost Iraqi Army positions.
Iraqi troops, who are manning strongholds hundreds of yards ahead of the American positions, reported that they had run desperately low on ammunition, according to tactical radio reports.
American commanders were eager to avoid a repeat of the setback Tuesday evening when one Iraqi company abandoned its position to the front of American forces. That area was reclaimed the next day by a different Iraqi unit, but the episode gave militias temporary control of a critical stretch of road and a fresh opportunity to plant roadside bombs.
And so on.
It looks like we might have to build concrete walls around every Iraqi city — maybe even around every individual Iraqi — in order to re-establish Iraq as a peaceful democratic state favorable to Western interests.
But when we do that, and when the rest of the world sees our glorious reconstruction of this wonderful ancient culture, they will hail us as liberators everywhere we go, and greet us with open spigots!